Monday, September 26, 2005

Housing Discrimination

According to the Charlotte Observer, a new study of mortgage lending practices shows a country-wide racial bias in the industry, though it is particularly severe in the South:

Blacks who bought homes in communities across America last year were four times as likely as whites to get high interest rates for mortgage loans, according to an Observer analysis of records from 25 of the nation's largest lenders.

Even blacks with incomes above $100,000 a year were charged high rates more often than whites with incomes below $40,000.

President Bush is quoted as saying, "Prejudice and discriminatory practices in housing still exist in America. These practices are wrong." If he really believes that, he'll allow the Section 8 voucher plan for the displaced citizens from Hurricane Katrina instead of moving forward with the idea of building gigantic trailer parks for the evacuees. (There are still people--poor people--living in the trailer parks after Hurricane Charley last year because their original communities decided not to rebuild low-income housing.) The point is that these people could be integrated into existing communities with available housing. Here's a description of Section 8 (via Kevin Drum):
Fortunately, no new federal program is required to match families suddenly needing housing with an existing stock of vacant apartments. The United States government already operates a program that would enable low-income families to pay the rent for these units. The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program currently serves about two million families throughout the country. It enables participants to occupy privately owned units renting for up to, and somewhat above, the local median rent. Enormous numbers of vacant units could be occupied immediately by families with these housing vouchers.

....To avoid delays in getting assistance to these families, the vouchers should be allocated to housing agencies on a first-come-first-served basis and any low-income family whose previous address was in the most affected areas should be deemed eligible. We should not take the time to determine the condition of the family’s previous unit before granting a voucher.


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